These days it seems like you cannot use any chemical products in your household without having any adverse effects on your health. Some domestically used items have come under fire with serious allegations concerning life-threatening diseases.
Whatever happened to living naturally, in a cost-effective way, that also preserves the ecological balance of Mother Earth? Today, we are so dependent on chemically produced bathroom essentials to maintain our personal hygiene. But now, various research studies have concluded that the short-term benefits associated with these products may not be worth the risk in the long run. Do you dread bad breath? Of course everyone does except the few who are strangely oblivious to it.
Never mind, I am here to tell you if your mouthwash or mouth rinse is a silent-killer. Life’s strange ways that an oral health care product may now be responsible for giving you mouth cancer. A lot of people faithfully include mouth rinse in their brushing and flossing routine to protect their pearly whites from tooth decay. In the last few decades, mouth rinse has received different reactions from scientists due to diverse lifestyle habits of respondents to clinical studies conducted on this subject. However, recent research studies, investigating the role of mouthwash as a potential cancer-causing agent, have been able to identify the same with respect to health habits of the people.
Cancer or Tooth Decay?
If the label on your mouth rinse bottle lists ethanol as an ingredient, it is an alcohol-based dental rinse solution. The presence of alcohol is of grave importance, as it has been discovered that alcohol containing mouth rinse can cause cancer. One of the most enlightening studies in this regard was published in the Australian Dental Journal, in 2009. According to this study, currently most mouthwashes are manufactured with an average 26% alcohol content.
That is more alcohol in your dental rinse solution than the beer you order in a bar. Any liquid that contains more than 20% alcohol concentration has damaging effects on oral health. Such mouth rinses create a burning sensation and penetrate the lining inside the mouth to fight bacteria which weakens and makes it more vulnerable to carcinogens. If you are a smoker, rinsing with an alcohol contained mouthwash leaves you more exposed to nicotine that readily attaches itself to the walls of your mouth.
The study claims that a smoker using an alcohol contained mouth rinse is at a nine times increased risk of oral cancer. We all know that alcohol shares a direct relationship with oral cancer. Most researchers have concluded that using mouth rinse can make you 4 to 5 times more vulnerable to develop a mouth cancer as compared to a person who does not use it at all. A frequent consumer of alcoholic beverages is also at a five times greater risk of mouth cancer than a teetotaler. This study also helps to understand why non-smokers and non-drinkers develop mouth cancers.
Did you know? Johnson & Johnson, one of the world’s most respected companies that manufactures medical and consumer products, was sued in July 2011 by Oral Cancer Prevention Inc. The latter is a manufacturer of oral cancer detection kits. According to the $60 million lawsuit, Johnson & Johnson tried to curb the sale of these kits after the above-mentioned Australian study was published.
It is alleged that the company made this move to protect its product Listerine, a popular mouthwash that is manufactured and distributed by Johnson & Johnson. Post the ordeal, the multinational maintains that it thoroughly tests its products. Interestingly, following the 50% drop in sales of Listerine in Australia, the American Dental Association released a statement denying that mouth rinses are unsafe for oral health.
Since the Australian study did not cite the magnitude of the risk of oral cancer attached to the daily use of mouthwash, the research was dismissed as having no absolute evidence to prove a direct link between the two. Other researches in this field have suffered a similar fate due to the lack of data recording the frequency, duration of usage, alcohol content and dosage. Accordingly, the Cancer Research, UK, maintains that it cannot be ascertained whether mouth rinse does cause cancer in the absence of consistent results.
Did you know? You are likely to die within 5 years since the time you were diagnosed with mouth cancer. I wonder how man in stone age survived for years without using a mouth-freshener for bad breath. Must have been one stinky mouth. And yet, they managed to procreate. I am already gagging at the thought of it. But, I do know that before mouth rinse was made popular as an anti-plaque and gingivitis remedy, the use of stems of the neem tree was prominent in many parts of the world. There are several alternatives to alcohol-based mouth rinse solutions that can be used daily without any severe side-effects, such as – parsley, clove, cardamom, fennel seeds, cinnamon sticks and baking soda.
Many epidemiologists have speculated that due to a longer exposure of mouth-fresheners inside the mouth, the alcohol causes sister chromatid exchanges, a chemical change, in the cells by forming acetaldehyde up to 105 μM. Also known as ethanol, it is chemical formed by the oxidation of ethanol. Both the chemicals are possible carcinogens according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Using mouth rinse twice, daily, is sufficient to develop a risk of cancer. This is further worsened by eating habits and lifestyle that introduce toxins to the body.
Your mouth-freshener is just as effective without alcohol, so it is absolutely unnecessary to make yourself vulnerable to mouth cancer everyday. The cancer can cause severe facial deformities. It is an irreparable damage and the survival rate of victims is 50% in less than 5 years. Unfortunately, lack of sufficient evidence fails to elucidate in detail about the purported relationship between mouthwash and cancer.
Labeling alcohol contained mouth rinse as a health product does not make its alcohol content any safer for your body. There are many companies that manufacture mouth-fresheners without alcohol. These products are easily available at most medical and convenience stores. Since studies conducted so far speculate that only alcohol contained mouth rinse causes cancer, I would say that it is a wise decision to choose the alcohol-free varieties.